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The first production ore from the Black Rock Cave project at Mount Isa Mines has come online more than two years after the underground mine development began.

The ore body is expected to yield about 1.8 million tonnes of copper ore from 2020 to 2024.

General manager Mount Isa mining Simon Pope said ore from the Black Rock Cave project would be extracted from a series of sub-levels downward through the ore body in a highly efficient pattern, using loaders and trucks to transfer ore to the surface.

“Glencore’s Ernest Henry Mining, located outside of Cloncurry, successfully converted from open pit operations to sub-level cave mining in 2011, but this will be quite a different application of this highly efficient mining method given the rock is less competent in the Black Rock ore body,” Mr Pope said.

“The underground decline and development of the mining levels is nearing completion by PYBAR Mining Services and we are pleased to report that the first production ore is now coming online.”

Glencore commenced development on the Black Rock ore body in May 2018 to access and extract ore around and below the historic Black Rock Open Cut.

It is progressively relocating surface assets, infrastructure and personnel in and around the area known as R62 to make way for the new operation.

This included the recent demolition of the original change house which was later repurposed as a core shed.

Mr Pope said the project was progressing well, with the current focus being the removal of the crude ore bins and conveyors from R62 as well as the process water tanks.

Demolition works on the No. 2 Ore Shaft headframe will start shortly, with the R60 building to follow.

“We are undertaking some major works to progress the Black Rock Cave project and both residents and workers alike will be noticing some changes to the Mount Isa Mines skyline and site as part of work on the Black Rock Cave project,” Mr Pope said.

“We are currently demolishing six crude ore bins that sit nestled to the southern side of the Lead Smelter Stack on the Mount Isa Mines lease which are visible from the Mount Isa city centre.”

PIC: The crude ore bins and building to be demolished as part of the Black Rock Cave development.